Still, other business owners said the system was generally a good thing for building brand awareness and engagement. "I'm not asking to retract the ratings," said Cathy Wallace, owner of The Mens Room, a consignment store in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Instead, she'd like Facebook to include a better way to let her respond to customers' complaints, either privately, or publicly on her company's page.
What she wants, she said, is a way to contact the reviewer, ask what happened, and say "sorry." Not that she would often need to: Her store currently holds an average rating of 4.5, based on 64 ratings.
Facebook could not comment for this article before press time.
It's common for major Internet companies like Facebook to try out new software and products and see what sticks. Twitter does "experiments" all the time, with new accounts to keep its users more in the know on certain topics. Google previously tried out its "Nexus Q," a black orb for streaming people's music. It was never released to the public.
These aren't always full-fledged, masterful products. But even if they're just in testing mode, the companies' tinkerings can have a huge impact on ordinary people's lives, given the size and influence of an online platform.
Business owners upset by Facebook's platform might be dealing with an unavoidable problem in the world of online reviews, when it comes to anonymity. Reviewers can post anonymously on Yelp, too. But they may not always stay secret. Just this week, a Virginia court ordered Yelp to hand over the identities of several people who left negative reviews anonymously for a carpet cleaning business.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.